by Mike Corrigan

Over the extended Halloween weekend (next Thursday-Saturday), the owner of the B-Side is pulling out all the stops to provide Spokane live music fans the best in top-shelf entertainment. That's right, Mr. Ben Cater has put everything on the line to bring us a three-day lineup the likes of which Spokane has never seen -- and probably will never see again. Thursday night, All Hallows Eve, get down as none other than Dr. Dre opens for his purple majesty, Prince. The following night, monitor reality with the original spud boys, DEVO. And if that isn't enough to blow your gourd, Saturday night promises to funk you silly then mellow you out, only to bomb you back to the Bronze Age when the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jimmy Buffett open for a re-formed Black Sabbath. Impressive, no?

Impressive, yes. Yet looking at the photos Cater sent me, I couldn't help but notice something a little peculiar about some of these acts. Black Sabbath's singer is clearly not Ozzy, Ronnie James Dio or even that other guy. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are short one member. And Prince looks really, uh, white. It's Halloween. But it might as well be April 1st because as you've no doubt already guessed, the reason Cater can afford to flood the B-Side with such star power next weekend is because it's all a fraud. A fake. A sham.

But what an inspired sham it is.

Here's the skinny: Cater and a host of local (and formerly local) musicians are teaming up for three nights of tribute band mayhem at the B-Side. The big phonies are BeeCraft as Prince with Soup of the Day as Dr. Dre and the Snoop Doggy Dog Pound on Thursday; Soup plays DEVO (with Butter spinning a P-Funk dance party a la Parliament and Funkadelic) on Friday; and The Longnecks emulate the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Signal Path approximates Jimmy Buffett and Uprite Organ will be Black Sabbath reincarnated on Saturday. The bands will not only cover the songs of their favorite artists but will also don the appropriate alter-ego attire. The guys in faux-DEVO, for instance, went to great lengths and no small amount of scratch to secure official Freedom of Choice-era red "Energy Domes" (as seen in the video for "Whip It") to complete their suburban robot ensembles.

"It should be pretty wild," says Cater. "And if this thing works out, we'll turn it into an annual thing."

Not only will the bands be dressed for success and confusion, but so should you. This is Halloween, after all, and to encourage your participation in this, the best of all the pagan holidays, the cover charge each night has been set at a low, low four bucks for those with a costume, and a slightly higher six bucks for those without a costume.

Though Cater himself is a member of Soup, he isn't quite sure how his congas are going to conform into the synthetically rocking and hyper-kinetic DEVO sound.

"It's gonna end up being like seven guys," he says. "I might just be the guy with the whip."

Truly, we're all DEVO.

Staying power -- Tish Hinojosa's music is as diverse and as rich as the multi-cultural San Antonio Tex-Mex community in which she was raised, as the country she has crisscrossed dozens of times throughout her long career, as the vision of America that ebbs uniformly through her many songs. Like other women performers who have avoided playing music industry games in favor of slow, steady, organic career growth (Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash and Bonnie Raitt come to mind), Hinojosa has over the years amassed, not a fortune, but something far greater: an impressive and distinct body of work, the respect of her peers and the devotion of fans all over the world. Spokane audiences will have an opportunity to catch a performance by this extraordinary singer/songwriter Monday night at the Met.

Hinojosa's songs represent a true melting pot of folk, pop and country styles. Yet they are somehow able to retain their distinctly national and regional characteristics while remaining accessible to mainstream audiences. Perhaps that's because Hinojosa's song portraits draw heavily on her own varied musical and cultural heritage. As a child -- one of 13 in an immigrant household -- she was exposed to both traditional Mexican folk music and contemporary popular groups like the Beatles. As an adult hammering out a musical career on the road, she was able to incorporate experiences, hard-won lessons and a growing social consciousness into her sonic tapestry. Add her beautifully lilting and soulful voice to the mix of guitar, pedal steel, fiddle and assorted percussion and you've got all the necessary ingredients for compelling American roots music. Real music. About people and places and moments frozen in time.

The early portion of Hinojosa's career took her to career stops in Taos, N.M., and to Nashville, where she had a moderate hit with the Curb Records single "I'll Pull You Through." But as the machine in Music City USA is more interested in cookie-cutter hits than the untested, challenging output of culturally diverse, politically aware female performers, Hinojosa eventually decided to return to Texas -- this time, to that hotbed of independent American music, Austin. There she found nurturing, like-minded artists and audiences receptive to her brave and honest storytelling.

Hinojosa's latest album, Sign of Truth (Rounder) is textbook Tish, an amalgam of disparate influences in which identifiable components come together to form something new and somehow indefinable. In Hinojosa's songs, lively corrido-style accordion dances alongside twangy steel guitar while her expressive lyrics unravel tales of discovery, redemption and hope.

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